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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Seoul links North/South economic cooperation to nuclear talks

RIA Novosti

19/03/2008 14:47 MOSCOW, March 19 (RIA Novosti) - South Korea has said that further economic cooperation with North Korea depends on progress in denuclearization talks, the South's unification minister said on Wednesday.

Kim Ha-joong said, in particular, that a South Korea-funded industrial complex in Kaesong, North Korea, would not be expanded unless progress was made in stalled negotiations on the communist state's nuclear programs.

"It will be difficult to expand if the issue of North Korea's nuclear programs remains unsolved," he said at a meeting with some 30 CEOs of South Korean firms operating in the complex, according to the Seoul-based Yonhap news agency.

Over 23,000 North Koreans are currently employed at 69 South Korean labor-intensive manufacturers operating at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.

Last month, Mike McConnell, director of U.S. National Intelligence, said North Korea had broken the pledge it made in 2007 to halt all nuclear activities.

Under an agreement reached last October between the United States, Japan, Russia, China, and North and South Korea, Pyongyang was to halt its nuclear programs and provide full information on nuclear activities by the end of 2007 in exchange for economic and political concessions. However, after the North missed the deadline, the six-way negotiations stalled.

Pyongyang has accused the U.S. of failing to strike it off the list of states sponsoring terrorism and going back on a pledge to lift trade restrictions, Washington's obligations under the six-party deal.

Since the October deal, South Korea, China and Russia have each supplied North Korea with 50,000 metric tons of fuel oil.

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